Earlier today in Davos, WEF organized one more session on Europe in order to find ways to deal with one of the most important issues that the old continent is facing which is no other than the refugee crisis. The session that took place in the Sanada room was called “Europe at a tipping point” and was moderated by Lyse Doucet, Chief International Correspondent of BBC News.
The panel consisted of David Miliband, President of the International Rescue Committee, Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs of France, Witold Waszczykowski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission and Josef Joffe, Publisher-Editor of Die Zeit.
Migration is not a new problem
David Miliband mentioned that the refugee crisis is not new (8-months) issue but it lasts for almost five years now since the beginning of the political and military turbulences in Syria. It is a mess since disorganized arrivals is a fact in Europe. The French Economy Minister added that it is an issue that is taking too long to be dealt with and serious actions must be taken.
More Europe is the solution
The debate for finding a permanent solution to this heartrending issue was unanimous. Not only a common EU solution must be found but also it has to be implemented. The latter clearly means that national solutions must be excluded since they lead to more division of the European people and are likely to set the EU project to great danger. More specifically, Federica Mogherini said: “National solutions so far have not provided a way out. Real answer is to make the European solution implemented.”
Furthermore, relocation was characterized by the President of the International Rescue Committee as “part of the answer”. Even if the relocation intended is finally implemented, it is not enough to cover the influx of refugees that are coming by thousands every day reaching the shores of the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea in general. But relocation of the refugees must be done by every country proportionally and excuses like the ones of Witold Waszczykowski, who pointed that Poland cannot accept its quota of immigrants, because is hosting one million Ukrainians due to the ongoing situation with Russia, are not in line with the EU ideals.
Integration is vital but is it possible?
Josef Joffe is against closing the EU borders to migrants but the Editor of Die Zeit suggests that the rate of immigrants must slow down in order to be able to create the mechanisms and conditions for a proper integration for the refugees. But is that possible when last year more than 1 million people flee their country to reach Europe and when that number is most likely to increase dramatically during the current year? It is obvious that there is no time for a proper integration framework but both integration and the receiving of the refugees must be dealt simultaneously.
David Miliband added to the discussion by mentioning that “Europe faces an essential issue to integrate its minorities. The keys to integration are employment, education and a path to citizenship”.
Border control and Schengen agreement
An Austrian citizen when interviewed by a BBC journalist said: “We need control, no wall”. The majority of the European citizens are in favor of the free movement that the Schengen agreement provides and the cost of losing this freedom will be devastating. As the Economy Minister of France clearly stressed: ”We need more Schengen but reinforce control.”
The cost of a no Schengen agreement means no freedom of goods and trade which will lead to an economic disaster according to Vice-President of the European Commission. “We risk something bigger, going back to a recession”; Ms Mogherini said. What is more, the European official urged the EU leaders to implement the decisions regarding relocation of the migrants and returns of the people that are not in need or are not entitled to asylum.
To Ms Doucet’s question whether Europe will commit suicide or use the migration crisis, Emmanuel Macron answered that: “We need Europe; we have to fix the short-term situations and design the long-term work together”. However, such a statement is too generic and since there are still many EU member states which do not coordinate for a common solution, these words seem so empty in the ears of leaders from Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic.
David Miliband vigorously responded to the question by saying that: “Britain will be part of the solution because Britain will not commit suicide by leaving Europe”; clearly showing which side has chosen in the next UK referendum for leaving or staying within the EU.
All in all, Europe is at a tipping point due to its major refugee crisis because a common EU solution cannot be implemented and agreed by everyone. It seems that a more permanent solution will be seeked outside Europe and Europe’s role will be to support countries like Turkey with financial and other means in order to keep the refugees in their own soil.
Stay tuned from 20 to 23 January as the Sting will be once more producing top class critical LIVE media coverage from the Congress Centre in Davos, Switzerland.
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